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The Sport We Call Life: Four female athletes battling chronic illnesses persevere

Living with a chronic illness sometimes means mustering up enormous strength to compete in the sport we normally refer to as life. There are some famous female athletes out there who accomplished great feats while battling chronic illnesses. Each of these women pursued their dreams with incredible strength and courage, despite the obstacles life served them.

Here are some amazing female athletes who, despite battling chronic illnesses, have accomplished astounding victories.

1. Venus Ebony Starr Williams

Venus Williams was ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association three times in her life, she has won four Olympic medals, and is currently ranked No. 5 in the world in the Women’s Tennis Association single rankings. Aside from battling it out with an opponent on the tennis court, star athlete Venus Williams has also been battling another opponent: Sjogren’s Syndrome. Although this autoimmune disease forced Williams to drop out of the U.S. Open in 2011, she still returned to tennis and is still considered one of the most powerful female athletes in the world.

Venus Williams at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships

2. Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a sprint canoer for the US Olympic team, competing in several sprint canoe world championships and summer Olympic competitions. Johnson was also diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Despite her diagnosis, Johnson was still able to compete in sprint canoe races at an Olympic level.

3. Shannon Boxx

Shannon Boxx, a player for the US women’s national soccer team, won gold medals in three olympic competitions, third or better rankings in four FIFA Women’s World Cups, and first in one NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. Boxx was diagnosed with Lupus in the middle of her career, but continued to compete in World Championships and still lives an active life after her retirement from soccer.

4. Jillian Michaels

While Jillian Michaels may not be an Olympic athlete, she is one of the most famous fitness gurus in the world. Michaels holds certifications with the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association, The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Kettlebell Concepts, and the American Fitness Professionals and Associates. She was a trainer on the reality series, The Biggest Loser, and has released several books and DVDs on fitness and wellness. Amidst her successes, Jillian Michaels was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Although the illness didn’t do much to damage her career, the fitness guru was unable to have children. Instead, she adopted one daughter and had another son with her partner Heidi Rhoades.

These four women have put incredible displays of strength out into the world throughout their careers by accomplishing many victories all while facing chronic illnesses. Their stories are truly inspiring, showing that anything is possible with some determination and of course, a little #girlpower.

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